Just a few months ago, Focus on the Family revealed that Brio, their magazine for teen girls, would be back in circulation. For those who grew up reading it in the 1990s and early 2000s, news of its revival was a bit concerning. Would the articles continue to perpetuate damaging, untrue stereotypes about interactions between men and women? Would modesty still be touted as the best (if not only) way for women to attract godly relationships?
Looks like they haven’t changed a thing.
The latest issue of Brio contains an article (reprinted from a 2008 issue) that supposedly interviews several young men about “truths” they “want [women] to know.” We’re told these “real thoughts from real guys.”
I was hoping to read statements like, “We’re actually not obsessed with sex,” or “We know you’re more than just a pair of boobs with legs, so we’re not as bothered by spaghetti straps and bathing suits as you think we are.” But this is Focus on the Family. That would be expecting too much. Instead, there’s a reason Brio can take old articles and reprint them today. If the magazine existed decades earlier, they could’ve reprinted articles from there, too. The mindset is identical even as the rest of society has progressed quite a bit.
Point #4, for example, is one of the oldest excuses in the world of evangelical relationships.
“We’re visually wired. Wearing clothes that are revealing and flirting in inappropriate ways pushes our buttons and send the wrong signals. I think modesty is cool!“
What “signals” are those, Brio? “Disrespect me”? “I deserve to be raped”? “I like sex”? Or is this so old hat that readers don’t need further explanation?
A more nuanced approach to dating in Christian circles would have been to analyze and dissect the sexual stereotypes that affect teens, male and female alike. You almost never read stories about women who admit to struggling with lust, who want sex, or who masturbate to curb their urges. In Christian Culture Land, those are landmark Male Problems, while women only struggle with fending men off like ants at a picnic, presumably because they’re wearing shorts that cut off a little too high above their knees or are accidentally showing a bra strap. But, again, that would be expecting way too much.
This rhetoric is nothing new under the sun, to quote Ecclesiastes. If it hasn’t worked to solve the larger issues of rape culture and sexual assault in the church by now, it won’t, ever.